What we hear

The daily Mass gospels for this week (April 27-May 2) have covered John 6:22-69, known as “Bread of Life Discourse.” This same gospel discourse is covered during the middle of “Ordinary Time” in Year B of the liturgical cycle of readings. The discourse includes the highly Christological statement: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35)

While celebrating Mass this morning (during this time of the pandemic) I had to opportunity, after proclaiming the Gospel, to pause and be lost for a while in my own thoughts. There were many threads in and around the beauty and wonder of the Eucharist – what a great gift. But one that seemed particularly relevant to these days of sheltering-in-place (safer-at-home, and all the other names) is the idea of the choices we make.

One of the unique features of John’s Gospel is that the Sacred Author uses the subtly of language to offer choices of understanding, thus revealing the listener’s mindset. In John 3, the encounter with Nicodemus, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be gennēthē anōthen. The expression can be translated as “born again” or “born from above.” Nicodemus chooses his understanding.

In John 4, the encounter with the Samaritan Women at the well, he offers her hydor zon. That expression can be understood with two possible meanings. It can mean fresh, running water (spring water as opposed to water from a cistern), or it can mean living/life-giving water. The woman chooses her understanding.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” – and what we hear and understand is the ongoing choice that we are offered.

If you would like to read  more detailed commentaries on the the Gospel of John, they can be found here. Or more specific commentaries referenced above, please see:

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